In previous blog posts I have given my take on the first two of my “Top Five” things you need to be a backyard horse-owner. Numbers one and two were “knowledge” and “skills” . I addressed those in two separate posts (in addition to the post entitled “The Team Approach”). I am now going to tackle items three and four, “Facilities and Equipment”, below.
In some ways, I feel underqualified to talk about facilities and equipment simply because I have very little of both! My horse facilities are pretty bare bones. Despite this, I have managed to carry on with horse keeping for these last sixteen plus years. Over that time period, I have cared for a total of 15 horses (six of my own horses plus nine foster horses from a local rescue). I have kept as few as one horse at a time to as many as four at a time.
Here is what I have in facilities:
-two old storage barns to keep hay, tack and equipment (electricity to barns stopped working long ago, but I can run an extension cord from house to barns/paddocks if needed like for a water-trough heater in Winter)
-a run-in shed with special footing around the shed for mud control
-permanent fencing with gates (divided into three sections- two different pastures and an enclosed barn area that encompasses the two storage barns connected by a concrete pad, a driveway that leads from the road to the barns, a water pump, and a roundpen)
-solar powered electric fencing materials that I use to fortify some areas of the permanent fence as well as for cross-fencing when I need to limit grass intake or confine a sick horse or a new horse for short periods. )
Here is what I have in equipment:
-a wheel barrow and muck bucket
-manure pick, rake, broom
-water hoses with attachments, water troughs, buckets
My husband and I bought the property with everything in place but have had some things modified over the years. For example, we tore down and had put up different fencing, enlarged the usable space of the run in shed with a permanent awning and had the dirt around the run in shed removed and replaced with an ag lime base so the horses could move around the run in shed without being in mud. Most recently, we had the same thing done to the roundpen for better footing while longing and riding.
Your own horse facilities and equipment will largely be determined by your budget, preferences and where you live. Budget issues are pretty obvious. The more money you have, the more varied and intricate your facilities can be. I think people may forget though that weather and terrain can make a big difference in how you keep your horses as well. Cultural traditions and specific discipline practices can affect what is available in your area too.
Don’t forget to plan for maintenance issues. Just like with houses, it seems like there is always something in need of repair, demolition or sprucing up around the farm. If you aren’t a handy-man type of person, you will need to find reliable contractors to fix issues in a timely manner. For example, not having running water or having a fence down can cause serious safety and welfare issues for your horses so you want to have the ability to address the issue yourself or folks in place to help!